In the developing world, school fees as little as $150 per year keep 115 million young people from continuing their education and realizing their immense potential. A quality education can expand employment opportunities, lead to better health outcomes, and strengthen communities.
When Wanjiku began her work with women in Mathare Valley in the early 1980s she was confronted with the concerns they had about their children and youth. Youth in the slum have very little access to proper primary education and are at risk of becoming involved with crime or prostitution from a very young age.
Growing up in a marginalized environment with very few opportunities to build a life outside crime has contributed to a generally poor self image among these youth. They don’t believe they are able or deserve to have a life unmarked by dire poverty. Lack of hope and low self-esteem make these youth highly susceptible to peer pressure, which often leads them to a path of crime, drugs or alcohol addiction and prostitution.
In the course of the years, the youth program grew into an extensive education and talent program encompassing different ages (with separate groups for teenagers, adolescents and young adults) and both formal and informal educational pathways.
There are 3 main projects in the Education and Talent Development program:
Head Start School – The Headstart Project serves dual purposes of providing children with beginning education and a safe environment in which to stay while their parents are working. It primarily serves those individuals involved with the Micro-Enterprise project, who would otherwise be forced to leave their children at home unattended.
Teens and Youth Groups – The teens group was started to explore the talents of the children in Mathare Valley and redirect their talent in a positive way through creative arts, card-making, songs, drama and presentations to local churches and the community. The Teenz group is an entry point to the Youth group which they can join when they complete their primary school education. The youth program provides life skills training and an opportunity to develop leadership. They gain valuable skills such as technology as well as self-respect, co-operation, initiative, vision for the future, career development and deeper insight into themselves and the world in which they are growing.
Kiserian School – The school was created in Kiserian to enable the children of the local Maasai community, which is plagued by HIV / AIDS, to gain an education in order to lead healthier lives. The school has also initiated a boarding facility for marginalized children and a high school for girls.
“I’ve been a yearly sponsor to an orphan for awhile now and have to say its one of my few but most important commitments I feel I’ve ever made. I thank Bill and Marina Shaw for introducing me to this incredibly hard working, selfless and beneficial charity. I hope more people will join me in contributing to their immense effort not only for the one child that will be transformed by their contribution, but for their own self transformation that naturally occurs from selfless acts. In gratitude to all those who I never thank but who are out there doing the work, thank you and may we all lift each other up as we are lifted. Co “
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